This past week, I was asked
“How do you not cry, when you come home from there? Crazy”
I was supposed to be taking a blogging Hiatus this week while I get things in order for the fundraiser that keeps the centre I run afloat. But I had to write this.
My tears do not come in the losses. The high kids, the broken lives, the shattered dreams. Because those are the reality. Those things are things that everyone faces.
Sure some of our’s may not be as severe, but in the end, we all face brokenness in our own life.
The tears come, in the victory. The victories are smaller than most want. The supporters of this centre tell me, more. Bigger stories, more victories, notches on a bible so to speak.
I coach football. It is one of my passions. I love the game, and love seeing the self esteem that it brings to the kids on the team. This is not ultra competitive ball, these are 12, 13 and 14 year olds. Some of these kids come from homes that, if I was honest, look perfect. Supportive Mom and Dad at practises, new shoes/gloves/TimTebow eyeblack, the whole nine yards.
Then there are the kids who, walk to practice alone. Have no cheering section at games. Some are there, only because they were asked… and then sponsored. Some are from broken homes(whatever that means) some from homes that were broken.
Today I write about 2 kids. Both made me cry Saturday. In fact, I couldn’t be in the “Post Game Rah Rah chat”. I had to walk away.
The first, lost his Mom to a car accident just over a year ago. He is in grade 8, and is a 3rd year player. Last year (the first season after the accident) he barely spoke at practice, was almost lifeless. And justifiably so.
We had high hopes for him this season. But no expectations. He is big, strong, and knows the ins and outs of playing Offensive Line. Yet, we didn’t want to count on him… he has dealt with too much. If this was his escape from being himself, we were ok with that.
Game 1, we hear a voice rallying his team mates… Pumping them up… encouraging. Holding them accountable. It was him. His voice boomed like the ones you hear from professionals in those old NFL Films videos. He took ownership of the O-Line… Then went out and dominated. Showed a mean streak on the field; that is what separates a Really Good lineman, from an average one. Played hard, helped the other guy up after knocking him down… then the next play, knocked him down. For a football fan, it was beautiful to watch!
This past game, he came off the field after a fumble and threw his helmet. I thought maybe his 14 year old hormons got the best of him and he couldn’t control his anger. He was benched for the next series, for which he called his line mates together and apologised for letting them down! then did the same to his whole offence. Leader.
We lost, but he showed grace, and leadership! I was close to tears.
The second young man, is a different story. He is a rough kid. I have lost count of the number of times, he has lost his cool at drop in… or stories about him having teachers who are frightened of him. I have so much more I could write about this young man, but today I will keep it at this.
I asked him to come out for football, because I thought he needed a place to get his aggression out… he did.
But not how I thought. I assumed he would want to hit people, make everyone else pay for the stuff he has been through… He wanted to score.
It all came clear to me this past Saturday.
This young man has never heard his name yelled… well thats not right… no one has CHEERED for him. No one has ever stood up and clapped, and cheered and fawned over what he as done.
This Saturday, he stepping into the starting role at QB because of an absence. And he led… he marched our team up and down the field. On one play in the second half, he ran a QB sweep for 25 yards. Our Fans ROARED. His reaction was shock… mine was tears.
There it was.
People had cheered for HIM! Some so loud that he was able to pick them out of the crowd!
But that isn’t the whole victory.
Later that night in town, I bumped into him. He was sullen. With our other QB we had won, with him we had lost… So it must be because of him. His rational is flawed, but understandable. He is the screw up. The other guy is the “winner”.
He then tells me this story. “Remember when Bob (name changed) came off the field and threw his helmet. (said with his eyes watering) He was mad cause someone told him they were going to eff his mom.” (they are almost full blown tears at this point as he sucks it all back in) “and, his mom (tears are back with anger in his eyes) died last year. That is just wrong”
In that moment his heart was not able to be contained. His love for a teammate, spilled out. He had been cheered that day, and didn’t bring it up. Just talked about a team mate who had been wronged. A team mate who wouldn’t be called his friend… but is now a brother.
The next time I hear a teacher tell me how selfish he is, I have this story.
So I cry.
I see the beauty in the brokenness.
One young man, stepping up to be the leader his mom told me he could be 3 years ago.
Another young man, being cheered maybe for the first time in his life. But wanting to talk about a team mate more!
I love my job.
I will now spend the rest of my week, focused on the acquisition of money, to keep this going. Keeping at the forefront of my mind, that God is faithful.